Dummies Guide to Longboarding – TYPES & SHAPES & MATERIALS
SEARCH / SPARK / STOKE / There can be an intense amount of information associated with Longboard products and it can all be a little overwhelming deciding on that first board. This guide is designed to give you some insight into the technology behind the products, and help you find that perfect ride. For more info visit. CalStreets.com or Concretewavemagazine.com
Carving and cruising are the most widespread forms of longboarding. This is more about using a longboard as a fun way to commute from point A to B rather than seeing how fast you can go. The greatest thing about carving up the asphalt with a longboard is that you don’t need surf, snow or even a lift ticket. You just open up your door and go!
Recommended Decks: Loaded, Madrid, Xylan, Dregs Recommended Wheels: Orangatang, Lush, Dregs, Atobe
Freeriding takes things up a notch from merely cruising or carving. Freeriding usually keeps the rider going slower than straight bombing a hill. Freeriding is about flow and style and performing every type of slide possible. Freeride boards are usually set up to turn a lot, and slide easy. They feature symmetrical shapes most of the time for riding in switch (riding backwards with tail facing downhill), and are usually set up with round lip wheels to help the board get sideways.
Recommended Decks: Loaded, Comet, Kebbek Recommended Wheels: Orangatang Freerides, Cult Classic, Kebbek
Downhill racing is about being the first person to the bottom of the hill, and ensuring you have a lot of fun doing it. You need a deck that is stable at high speeds with no flex. It’s also vital that you wear all safety gear – not just a helmet. Most serious downhillers have a full leather suit. For information about racing, make sure you visit igsaworldcup.com.
Decks we recommend: Kebbek, Comet, Lush Recommended Wheels: Cult Death Ray, Kebbek Magnet, Orangatang Stimulus
While technically, not a longboard, slalom has carved out its own place within the world of longboarding. The reason is simple. If you love speed and the feeling of carving with precision, then you’ll enjoy whipping through cones. Slalom has deep roots within skateboarding and thanks to cutting edge technology, there is a whole new generation of coneheads out there.
What is a top mount?
The simplest of all mounting styles, the board just simply sits atop the trucks like on normal skate deck. The advantages to a top mount come because it keeps the riders weight and feet over the wheels. This allows the rider to have maximum control and leverage over the trucks. Top-mounts have emerged as a trend lately especially ones that are smaller and have a shorter wheelbase. Topmounts function as great downhill race boards because of the grip, but people have been using them for freeride lately which is also popular.
What is a dropped board?
A dropped board means the riding platform (the part of the deck the rider stands on) is sunk below the trucks. It’s not to be confused with the drop through mounting, although creates a similar feeling by lowering the ride height to help riders feel locked in. Dropped boards are better for pushing because your lower to the ground and for freeriding because they slide longer because of the lower center of gravity. A dropped board will still function great for Downhill too.
What is drop-through mounting?
Drop through mounting lowers the ride height similar to a dropped board but in a different way. A drop through board is machined out so the trucks mount from the top. This is done by separating the hanger from the base plate. You then mount the base plate into the board from the top, followed by the hangar from underneath. Drop through boards tend to come mostly symmetrical in shape so that riders can ride better in switch. Usually sits around 0.5-1” lower when mounted in a drop through style, makes the board more drifty and good for sliding.
I want a board that is fun to cruise on. What should I be looking for?
Longboards come in many different shapes and styles, but also different thicknesses and materials. As a general rule if it has a lot of flex, the board was designed more to carve and cruise. Flex in the board allows for a snappy quick feeling carve and is great for commuting and bobbing and weaving between people on a sidewalk. Most boards that feature flex are made of bamboo or a bamboo composite combination. Boards are usually offered with different levels of flex, so that it can be tailored to the person’s weight and preference.
Maple – Maple is probably the most common board material right now, because of its availability, price and durability. Maple creates a very stiff feeling board because of its rigidity and thickness. A maple board will also last an extremely long time and should be able to hold up to even the hardest of skateboarding.
Bamboo -Bamboo is becoming a more common board building material in the longboard world. Bamboo has much more flex and resilience than maple. Bamboo boards are more for carving and cruising because they have so much flex. Bamboo is usually used in combination with fiberglass to help hold the board together under the stress of a skater. A bamboo board is usually not very thick in comparison to a maple deck, but this creates a board which is easier to carry around when not in use.
Carbon Fiber -Carbon Fiber is the most expensive option for a longboard composite, but brings advantages to the table. Carbon boards are very light and usually have foam core to help lighten the weight. Carbon is usually used to wrap another medium to make it stronger, a lighter board makes for a faster push off the start line and makes it easier to move around in slides. Carbon Fiber is more for an experienced rider, because it takes time to learn a board well enough to appreciate the feel of carbon fiber.
Longboard trucks are very different than regular street skating trucks. A Long-board Truck is known as a “reverse kingpin” truck, because the axel is on the other side of the kingpin compared to a standard truck. A longboard truck has lots of lean which creates the deep smooth feeling carves which longboarders crave. Reverse Kingpin trucks are affected by many different factors, and knowing which trucks will go good with which board and style of riding is the key to a proper setup. Hangar Width When selecting which truck is right for which board you must first consider a couple things. The first of these is the width of the hanger. The hanger width is meant to be matched to the width of the board.
A 9”wide deck or greater will need a minimum of 180mmm Hanger width. With less hanger width the wheels are more likely to come into contact with the board during sharp turns and stop it suddenly because of wheel bite. Decks that are not as wide can get away with the sharper turning 150mm trucks as they are designed more for smaller cruising boards and minis.
Base plate angle also affects the way in which a truck will turn; a lower base plate angle will make the truck turn less, while a higher angle will allow for more turn. A 50* Base plate will also make the setup slightly taller than a 40-45* baseplates. A 50* base plate is the standard for longboarding, fifty degrees is a great all around base plate because it turns enough for cruising but still has some stability for downhill. While a lower angle will be better for stability because it has less ability to turn. This works great for downhill but can take away some of the fun of a board when it doesn’t turn sharply for cruising. Most downhillers will run a 42* or 44* base plate with a 180mm hanger.
The magic of longboarding comes together with the wheels. It’s crucial that you utilize the correct wheels, because they can make a huge difference in your riding experiences. Durometeris a measurement system for Urethane that measures its hardness. The lower the number means the softer the wheel will be. An extremely soft wheel will grip the pavement better through turns because the urethane is stickier, although they may roll slightly slower and not slide as smoothly because they are soft. A hard longboard wheel will be around an 83-86 durometer. These wheels will roll faster, grip less, and chatter less in slides. This is because a harder wheel has a higher roll speed and less rippling in the urethane when sliding.
Wheels that have rounded edges are usually designed as a freeride/sliding based wheel. A rounded lip allows the wheel to break sideways into slides easier which is what someone who is interested in sliding and learning to slide is looking for. Rounded lips tend to not be good as a racing wheel because the rounded edges don’t promote grip through turns. A rounded lip wheel will work well for a person who is commuting as they don’t need lots of grip. Wheels that have sharper edges rather than a smooth round lip are usually designed more for maximum grip and racing. A hard lipped wheel doesn’t break traction as easily as its slippery counterparts. That doesn’t mean that wheels with hard lips can’t slide or be used for freeride. They are just harder to break into a slide. Hard lipped wheels are great for racers who will know exactly which model and hardness they would like.
WATCH OUT FOR WHEEL BITE!
This happens when a turn causes a wheel to collide with the board, usually resulting in the board suddenly stopping. It’s something that you should test for, before riding any board. There are a few ways to prevent this from happening. The simplest is to keep the kingpin tight enough to prevent the hanger from leaning far enough for it to bite. The other easy solution is to have a few risers in between the trucks and deck. You can also purchase smaller wheels.
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Words by Ben Dubreuil